I feel like it says something about Graham Hancock that he has devoted a growing percentage of the guest articles on his website to UFO and ancient astronaut claims, even though he himself purports not to believe in the ancient astronaut theory. How much of that is the case is debatable, since his rejection of ancient astronautics in Magicians of the Gods contrasts rather heavily with his frequent appearances on Ancient Aliens and the ancient astronaut book he coauthored, The Mars Mystery. At any rate, it was rather surprising to see Hancock follow up publishing a guest article about Hopi ancient astronaut encounters with one from infamous UFO abductee Whitley Strieber excerpting his new book about ancient “visitors” and their “human allies.”
My deadline for finalizing my Legends of the Pyramids manuscript is December 1, which means that I need to devote extra time over the next two weeks to getting my submission put together. So, today, I will only briefly remark that this year is the centennial of Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned, a seminal work in the world of the bizarre, fringe, and pseudoscientific. In honor of the anniversary, Micah Hanks published an article this week celebrating Fort’s unreadable, gibberish style (“oddly poetic”) and describing “one of my absolute favorite passages” (emphasis in original) in Fort’s book. That he has a favorite passage in Fort, and that it is a list of red rains culminating in a bizarre non sequitur about a “super-dragon” crashing into a comet and bleeding all over the Earth probably says more about Hanks than it does about Fort.
In honor of Halloween, I present the text of a misogynistic 1643 pamphlet about the murder of a witch in Newbury, England. This particular case involves a group of men freaking out that a woman was surfing (!) and killing her for it. The original spelling and punctuation is given here, as reprinted in Walter Money's First and Second Battles of Newbury etc., second ed. (1884).
Today I am working on my All About History article on Hitler’s wonder weapons, so you are getting a rerun. This past week, Scientific American published a piece by Darren Naish exploring the origins of Mokèlé-mbèmbé, the legendary Congolese monster supposed by many cryptozoologists to be a living dinosaur. Nash correctly attributes the development of the myth to the dinosaur mania of the early twentieth century, the same impulse that led Conan Doyle to write The Lost World around the same time. But neither in the blog nor in his book Hunting Monsters (according to a text search in Google Books—I haven’t read the book) does Naish discuss the story that has long served as “evidence” that the monster predated twentieth century adventurers’ stories. Therefore, I present my discussion of the eighteenth century French account of Mokèlé-mbèmbé’s monstrous footprints. I originally wrote this in 2012, and the text below is the revised and expanded version presented in my 2013 book Faking History.
Some of you might have seen that Graham Hancock posted on his social media accounts yesterday that he is currently writing his new book on prehistoric America and is deep into creating alternative explanations for the alignments of the Newark Earthworks in Ohio. This amused me because I am also writing about the Newark Earthworks for my own book this week, though in a very different way. Hancock is analyzing the mounds themselves for secret alignments and their connections to astrology and Atlantis, while I have been investigating the people who invented these claims, many of whom never actually studied the mounds in person or conducted any scientific surveys. Hancock is particularly interested in the Great Serpent Mound, which has quite the colorful history of attracting misinformed views, including the bizarre claim that it is a duplicate of a mound at Loch Nell in Scotland, which is actually a glacial deposit and not a serpent-shaped mound. That claim had a good run of 140 years, and none of the early advocates of the claim, including famed archaeologist Frederick Ward Putnam, had actually visited both sites.
New Book Claims to Be Rediscovered Ancient Text Written by Egyptian God Thoth. It Is Actually "Channeled" New Age Mysticism
So, this one was a big “No” from me. I started to take a look at an upcoming release from Bear & Company called The Tablets of Light: The Teachings of Thoth on Unity Consciousness (2017), which appears under the byline of Danielle Rama Hoffman and the copyright of Danielle Lynn Hoffman, who are presumably the same person. I did not make it very far. Mostly I wanted to give up when the acknowledgements thanked the Egyptian god Thoth, to whom the book is pompously dedicated, and to “the Council of Light, Isis, Sanat Kumara, Venus Beings of Light, and all the Light Beings I have the blessing of multidimensionally communicating with.” But I did give it a go into the first chapter. It was a mistake. I had expected at least a passing familiarity with Egyptian, Greek, and Hermetic sources; I received rambling New Age mumbo-jumbo.
Monday Odds and Ends: Recycled News, Jacques Vallee in Argentina, and Arabic Treasure Hunting Guides
Here we go again! A geologist claims that he has discovered definitive proof that Jesus and his wife Mary Magdalene were buried in Jerusalem’s Talpiot Tomb with their son Judah—and the geologist isn’t even Scott Wolter! Dr. Aryeh Shimron says that chemical tests done on the so-called James Ossuary, the one inscribed with the phrase “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” prove that the ossuary was originally deposited in the Talpiot Tomb. The bigger question is this: Why is this news now? Shimron made his claims in the spring of 2015, but Britain’s Sun newspaper decided to write about them now, for no discernible reason.
In 1737 and 1738, Danish naval captain Frederic Louis Norden traveled through Egypt and Nubia to make a report of them for King Christian VI, though neither man would live to see the publication of the resulting volume, Voyage d’Egypte et de Nubie, in 1755. The volume is famous for depicting the Sphinx for the first time without its nose and in a realistic style. But for fringe historians the volume is also interesting because of the mistakes Norden made, which of course they take to be something else
An article by Tara MacIsaac published both in Ancient Origins and the Epoch Times this week reports on a three-decade-old diffusionist article by David H. Kelley, newly published in the subscription diffusionist publication Pre-Columbiana. The piece was originally written for a “major” science journal in the 1980s and was allegedly rejected, according to Pre-Columbiana, for being too scholarly. Kelley’s article alleges that the similarities between the Maya and Chinese calendars show that they could only have derived from a single source.
I can’t say I devote too much time to keeping up with what the tweens and teens are watching these days, but apparently when it comes to “educational” programming, it has reached History Channel levels of bad. Yesterday, I had planned to be out for the afternoon. I turned on the TV to set the DVR to record something while I was gone, and the TV happened to be tuned to my local CBS affiliate, which was showing a syndicated educational program called Elizabeth Stanton’s Great Big World, in an episode on Armenia that first aired on June 13. Unbeknownst to me, this program has aired for the last five years, hosted by a 20-year-old who started the show when she was 15. The program is produced by American Television International, the brain trust behind Bristol Palin’s failed 2012 reality show.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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